Content warning: the book being reviewed is graphic in content including descriptions and discussions of Satanism, murder, and a premarital sexual relationship. The story itself may be difficult for some readers to stomach. If you chose to read this book after reading this review, please proceed with caution.
A tragic and horrific story told in the form of flashbacks over the course of a few days in the narrator’s life, The Secrets on Chicory Lane by Raymond Benson will have you eating up every word to the bitter end. Although it took me a few days to finish it, I absolutely could have finished it in one or two sittings. This story captures your attention and demands to be read thoroughly. Blink, and you will miss something. And you won’t want to miss anything.
Shelby Truman is a sixty-one-year-old successful romance author. The book opens with her reflecting on the difficult task of beginning to write a book. When she receives a phone call that her childhood best friend, Eddie Newcott, who is on Death Row for murdering his girlfriend and unborn child, has asked to see her. The story follows Shelby as she adjusts her original plans to visit her hometown of Limite, adding a visit to Eddie in prison beforehand. As she makes these plans and travels, Shelby recalls her childhood and relationship with Eddie in flashbacks.
This story touches on many dark and difficult subjects including child molestation, domestic abuse, infant death, mental breakdowns, and Satanism. Shelby recalls in her flashbacks Eddie’s increasing mental instability, obsession with evil and dark things, and fear of infants and children. In many ways, this story is a woman who faced much tragedy in her life trying to piece together what went wrong with Eddie and where it all started.
Raymond Benson has an uncanny way of making you hang on for “just a little bit more.” I did guess the surprise ending, but only about half of the information in it. Needless to say, the ending is tragic, heartbreaking, and left me in real tears. Benson does an excellent job of writing a less-than-perfect ending while still leaving the reader satisfied. I especially like the way he beautifully bookends the first and last chapters. This is absolutely a book you will want to read. It is a murder mystery, tragedy, and literary beauty.
I give The Secrets on Chicory Lane 5/5 stars.
I received an advance digital copy of The Secrets on Chicory Lane by Raymond Benson from NetGalleyprior to the book’s publishing on October 3, 2017 in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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